Apr 11, 2023

5 OEM strategies beyond order

Kris Harrington

In today's dynamic business environment, staying competitive requires a more dynamic approach to utilizing your organization's valuable resources. As an original equipment manufacturer or after-sales leader, your teams should be focused on delivering exceptional products, enriching customer experiences, and driving revenue growth.

However, some companies still rely on outdated practices, operating as mere ‘order-takers’ and spending a significant amount of time on administrative tasks, rather than adding value to their customers. And adding value can make a massive impact for OEMs.

If your organization is more focused on order-taking tasks than creating value for your customers, you may be at risk of falling behind. Here are three telltale signs that your organization operates as an "order-processing center":

● Customer service teams are spending most of their time responding to customer inquiries for parts identification, price, availability, and order-related tasks.

● The organization is relying heavily on manual workflows and paperwork to manage orders, returns, and warranty claims.

● The organization is not leveraging technology or automation to streamline processes, reduce errors, and improve customer experiences.

So, what can you do to move away from an order-taking culture and start focusing on value-adding activities? Here are five things that OEM and after-sales leaders should consider:

1Implement a digital self-service platform. One of the most effective ways to reduce the burden of order-taking on your customer service teams is to provide customers with self-service options. This can include customer or dealer portals that allow customers to access product information, place orders, track shipments, and request support without having to engage with customer service representatives every step of the way. By enabling users to self-serve, you can reduce the volume of calls and emails your customer service teams receive and free up their time to focus on more strategic activities.

2Automate order processing and fulfillment. By integrating EDI and ERP systems, businesses can streamline operations, reduce errors, and improve customer satisfaction. For example, automated order processing and fulfillment allow companies to allocate inventory, generate pick lists, and create shipping labels automatically. This automation helps reduce the burden on customer service teams and will let them focus on more strategic initiatives. Additionally, automation provides real-time visibility into inventory levels, order status, and delivery tracking, which enables businesses to manage their operations and improve customer service proactively.

3Use data analytics to anticipate customer needs. Rather than waiting for customers to contact you with their needs, you can use data analytics to anticipate their needs proactively. By analyzing customer behavior and buying patterns, you can identify which products or services they are likely to need next and offer them personalized recommendations or promotions that encourage repeat business. This use of analytics can help you build stronger customer relationships, increase revenue, and reduce the need for reactive order-taking.

4Invest in training and development for customer service teams. While digital self-service and automation can help reduce the burden of order-taking on your customer service teams, they still play a critical role in ensuring customer satisfaction. That's why it's important to invest in training and development programs that equip your customer service teams with the skills and knowledge they need to handle complex inquiries, resolve customer issues, and provide exceptional service. By empowering your customer service teams to add value, you can differentiate your organization from competitors and build a loyal customer base.

5Create a culture of continuous improvement. Finally, it's important to create a culture of continuous improvement that encourages experimentation, innovation, and collaboration across your organization. This can include regularly reviewing and analyzing customer feedback, identifying areas for improvement, and testing new processes and technologies to drive efficiency and customer satisfaction. By embracing a culture of continuous improvement, you can position your organization for long-term success and move away from a culture of order-takers to a culture of value-creators.

The pressure to deliver more value to your dealers and customers is greater than ever, and organizations that fail to prioritize this customer service strategy risk losing market share. By implementing the steps outlined in this blog, OEM and after-sales leaders can optimize their operations, improve customer experiences, and set themselves up for success in the years to come.

Kristina Harrington is the co-founder and CEO of GenAlpha Technologies, which provides digital commerce technology for manufacturers. Prior to GenAlpha, Kris worked for more than 10 years in leadership positions at two large multinational original equipment manufacturers, Bucyrus International and Caterpillar, supporting the mining industry. In her various positions, she worked with internal stakeholders, dealers, and customers to deliver business results both in aftermarket and equipment sales. She can be reached at [email protected].

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1 Implement a digital self-service platform. 2 Automate order processing and fulfillment 3 Use data analytics to anticipate customer needs 4 Invest in training and development for customer service teams 5 Create a culture of continuous improvement